The Associated Press reports that South Carolina lawmakers have tentatively approved a 2014-15 spending plan that would cut funding for the College of Charleston by $52,000. This amount coincides with the cost of a summer 2013 program that assigned incoming freshmen to read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.
"I understand diversity and academic freedom," said Rep. Gerry Smith, who made the propsal. "This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate." He says that the punishment stems from the book being a campus-wide requirement and not an elective.
Have you read Fun Home? If not, you really should. Alison Bechdel's autobiography spans her childhood, including dealing with a closeted father and her own coming out. However, as it clearly says on the cover, this is a tragicomic and not a happy read.
Cutting funding because a book supposedly advances the gay agenda isn't in the interests of higher education. Instead, it feels like a step back into the era of Fredric Wertham and Seduction of the Innocent. I'm going to make an educated guess and say that no one who voted for the spending plan actually read Fun Home. Saying that it promotes a lifestyle (presumably a homosexual one) is kind of like saying Titanic promotes ocean liner cruises.
Bechdel's journey is not "fun" - but it is real. Exposing students to a point of view that they might be unfamiliar with is something that a school should be rewarded for, not punished.